Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has reportedly rejected five mercy petitions, including that of Surender Koli, the convict in the Nithari killings case. He signed these five files recommending to the President that the mercy petitions of Renukabai and Seema (Maharashtra), Koli (Uttar Pradesh), Rajendra Pralhadrao Wasnik (Maharashtra), Jagdish (Madhya Pradesh) and Holiram Bordoloi (Assam) should be rejected.
Koli’s petition was pending since May 7, 2011.He brutally killed and later axed several children in the Nithari locality of Noida in UP. 16 cases were filed against him, with death sentence awarded in 4 and the others are still under trial.
He was sentenced to death along with his employer Moninder Singh Pandher, 54, by the Ghaziabad court on February 13, 2009. The Allahabad High Court had then confirmed Koli’s death sentence on September 11, 2009 while acquitting Pandher of the charges. Koli’s death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in February, 2011.
Another petition recommended for rejection is that of two sisters, Seema and Renukabai. The two sisters, along with their mother and another co-conspirator Kiran Shinde, kidnapped 13 children, between 1990 and 1996. Out of these, they killed nine. They used to kidnap children from localities of poor people in the areas of their operation and force them to commit thefts, lift goods and snatch chains. They were murdered by smashing their heads against the wall, railway tracks, by hitting them with iron rods or strangulation.
However, the prosecution could prove only five murders, on the basis of which the two sisters were sentenced to death. The case against the mother had to be abated as she died in 1997 while Shinde turned an approver in the case. The apex court confirmed their death penalty on August 31, 2006.
The Ministry also recommended the rejection of mercy petition of Wasnik whose death sentence was upheld in October, 2012 for sexually abusing and murdering of a girl child in village Asra of Maharashtra.
The President’s power to pardon is the last legal resort for a death row convict. The President can return the cases to the ministry for reconsideration only once, after which he is constitutionally obligated to oblige with the Home Ministry's advice.
Mr Mukherjee's three predecessors have often stonewalled when it came to convicts that the home ministry recommended should not be granted mercy.
The mercy petition of Jagdish, who was convicted for murdering his wife and five children (four daughters and a son, all aged between one and 16 years), was also rejected. Jagdish had submitted that he was in an unsound state of mind and that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment as the capital punishment was not executed for over three years. He was awarded with capital punishment in April, 2006, with the apex court affirming it in 2009.
The mercy petition of Bordoloi, whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005, was also rejected. Bordoloi murdered three men of the same family in a gruesome manner in broad daylight, in front of the villagers in an effort to establish his superiority in the village.
It was also reported that the Home Ministry has already written to the states concerned — Maharashtra (from where two petitions relating to three convicts were received), UP, Madhya Pradesh and Assam (one case each) — to set in motion the process of execution of the death row convicts.
The Supreme Court had in February this year commuted the death sentences of 15 death row convicts to life imprisonment on grounds of inordinate delay. Curative Petitions have been filed by the government against the Supreme Court, seeking reconsideration of the February order.
The Centre wants to oppose the SC order as it is of the opinion that the apex court’s decision is tantamount to one constitutional body challenging the authority of another — the President of India.
Dismissing the Centre’s review petition on March 12, the SC had said it found no merit in it. It had also rejected the government’s request to hear it in an open court. Read the Live Law story here.
Read more news about the issue here.
Also read Centre’s stand on the issue here.